Serena Vermeersch murder a 'crime of opportunity': IHIT

Serena Vermeersch murder a ‘crime of opportunity’: IHIT

SURREY – The murder of 17-year-old Surrey girl Serena Vermeersch is being considered a random attack, according to investigators.

Surrey RCMP along with the Integrated Homicide Investigation Team (IHIT) today updated the media on the progress of finding the girl’s killer.

"On the surface, Serena’s murder was a random crime of opportunity that was committed in a secluded area," said Surrey RCMP Chief Supt. Bill Fordy, after offering his condolences to the Vermeersch family.

Fordy added the crime was even more "tragic" considering the fact the body was dumped eight block away from the Surrey RCMP detachment in an area where police cars frequent day and night.

"I think the loss of any life is a tragedy and in this particular case we have a 17-year-old girl who had the rest of her life to live and she’s been taken from her friends and her family by a person that we have yet to identify and I find that offensive," said Fordy, adding he has children who live in Surrey and the murder angers him.

Vermeersch’s body was found on Tuesday evening at 7 p.m. by Search and Rescue in the 14600-block of 66th Avenue of Surrey, near the railway tracks.

IHIT Staff. Sgt. Jennifer Pound said she was located by searching areas near her regular route home.

"We tracked the path that she would normally take and Search and Rescue really did just a permieter of that area and that’s where she was located," she said.

Police are now searching for a man last seen leaving the area in a silver/grey Dodge full-size three-quarter ton pickup truck with a canopy and a roof rack.

The vehicle departed westbound on 66th Avenue and u-turned at Uplands Road, before heading eastbound on 66th toward 148th Street.

The male, described only as wearing dark clothing, was witnessed walking across the tracks northbound and getting into the vehicle less than an hour before the teen’s body was located.

Pound would not divulge whether the girl was sexually assaulted or the cause of her death.

Vermeersch was last seen on Monday (Sept. 15) just after 8 p.m. in the area of 64th Avenue and 128th Street getting onto a bus. She was reported missing by her mother the next day after not arriving home, which was described as being out of character for the teen.

Serena Vermeersch map

"The concern of her family was immediate when she didn’t return phone calls," said Pound. "That is part of our evidence that we gathered and that is a very strong point that we have to move forward with. This was not in her character, she was very much dedicated to her family, she kept in touch with her family on a regular basis and the red flags were sounded when she didn’t contact them."

Police are now looking to speak to anyone who may have seen the teen on the bus or when she was getting off the bus.

Fordy is warning the public to be aware and vigilant at all times. He said that people of all ages, but in particular children, are distracted by technology, suggesting Vermeersch may have been taken unawares while on her cell phone.

"Nothing angers me more than innocent people becoming victims of crime," said Fordy, adding he has made the murder his "number one priority" and will add officers to the case to work with IHIT.

Vermeersch is described as Asian, 5’8”, 135 pounds, with straight long brown hair and brown eyes. She was last seen wearing a blue tank top and black shorts.

Police are looking to speak to anybody who may have seen her on the bus or any time on the evening of Sept. 15. Anyone with information on the case are urged to call the IHIT tip line at 1-877-551-IHIT (4448) or Crime Stoppers, at 1-800-222-8477.